Friday, June 16, 2006

Stop Bharmering (Railroad Tycoon x2)

It's not every day that a new word enters the English language. Wednesday was one such day. The word has proven so useful at describing something we gamers face all too often that once we came up with it, we found ourselves using it constantly.

It describes a player who doesn't know who's turn it is, particularly when it's his/her turn.

The word, my friends, is "Bharmering".

Use it once, and you'll wonder how you got along without it. I'm sure by this time next year, it will be a part of the basic vocabulary of gaming.

Poor Brian (heretefore know as "Bharmer"). He certainly isn't guilty of Bharmering more often than anyone else, but he had the misfortune of committing the error just as we were saying there should be a word for it. So it is.

Anyway, the game last night was Railroad Tycoon. Bharmer had never played, but since he managed to beat the group in his first outing of Power Grid, we felt he was up to the task of jumping right in. Luch dominated the game by taking control of the red cube rich north east. I did my best to stop him, but to no avail. Kozure worked on the south east, along with Bharmer, and linked to chicago along another line. Shemp started in the south and worked his way up to the west of the mountains. I really wasn't doing anything productive, building short lines everywhere, missing out on the hotel in Chicago (as well as my Tycoon's bonus of 2 points per link out of there), and wasted an effort trying to reach Toronto to claim a service bounty before Bharmer. Overall, the race for 2nd, 3rd and 4th place was tight but Luch won decisively. Bharmer trailed pretty badly for 5th place, but he was hampered the entire game by some unwise early decisions due to inexperience.

We played a second game, now that everyone was familiar. I got caught up in a ridiculous bidding war against Luch for the 1st move. I think I quit at $22000! The starting cards were potentially quite lucrative, though, so it wasn't entirely insane. Luch started in the North East again, but the board had a very different distribution of cubes than the last game, so it didn't prove to be such a huge advantage. Most of the red cubes started on the red cities... the board was described by Kozure as "goods poor", due to this type of distribution. I played a much better game this time, establishing a good medium sized route early on near Cincinatti and grabbing a few card bonuses. I also slowly built a route from New York to Chicago (to satisfy my Tycoon bonus). Chicago became a nightmare of crossing tracks as the area was heavily developped by Kozure, Shemp and myself. Everyone was having a pretty good game this time, with most players neck and neck. I was trailing, but my east-west goal was fairly long term (and expensive... I was taking shares like they were going out of style).

A funny thing happened in the end. One of the most common criticisms of the game manifested itself for the first time: The big 20 point bonus card revealed itself on the 2nd last round, and I was the only one capable of fulfilling it (having already made the connection from New York to Chicago). I had already planned out my last 6 actions... I would upgrade my engine to 6 (2 actions) and then ship the 4 red cubes from New York to Chicago for 24 points. I was therefore not even considering going for the bonus, since I'd be sacrificing the easy deliveries in order to do it and the cost would be higher. Then, on the last turn, a government land grant came up. No one took the card, so on my turn I was able to cheaply go to Kansas, claim the bonus and still make a few deliveries. I went from last place to a win!(though by a single point). Had the card not come up, I would have still vaulted to 2nd place with my long term strategy coming to fruition, but I'm happy to say that in the end the bonus did not swing the game entirely.

Anyway, it was a fun night. I really enjoy the game despite it's design flaws. I have a sneaking suspicion that it may be worthwhile removing the "Railroad Executive" cards from the start pile, since they seem to come up fairly often and allow the start player to rack up significant points (and, no, the auction doesn't balance this out. If the start cards are so good that a real bidding war errupts, the player to the left of the start player is the real winner).

I have a feeling we might be doing more of this type of evening in the future... playing the same game twice instead of a number of games... should be a good way to get a more in depth appreciation for the bigger games we play. I'm looking forward to it.

Until then, stop Bharmering.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:25 AM


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